Inosine in DNA and RNA

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2014 Jun;26:116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2014.07.008. Epub 2014 Aug 30.


Deamination of the nucleobases in DNA and RNA is a result of spontaneous hydrolysis, endogenous or environmental factors as well as deaminase enzymes. Adenosine is deaminated to inosine which is miscoding and preferentially base pairs with cytosine. In the case of DNA, this is a premutagenic event that is counteracted by DNA repair enzymes specifically engaged in recognition and removal of inosine. However, in RNA, inosine is an essential modification introduced by specialized enzymes in a highly regulated manner to generate transcriptome diversity. Defect editing is seen in various human disease including cancer, viral infections and neurological and psychiatric disorders. Enzymes catalyzing the deaminase reaction are well characterized and recently an unexpected function of Endonuclease V in RNA processing was revealed. Whereas bacterial Endonuclease V enzymes are classified as DNA repair enzymes, it appears that the mammalian enzymes are involved in processing of inosine in RNA. This yields an interesting yet unexplored, link between DNA and RNA processing. Further work is needed to gain understanding of the impact of inosine in DNA and RNA under normal physiology and disease progression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Deamination
  • Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inosine / metabolism*
  • Models, Genetic
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Editing / genetics


  • Inosine
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Adenosine